K-State Set for NCAA West Preliminary

Meet Schedule | Men's Start Lists | Women's Start Lists

MANHATTAN, Kan.
– Two weeks removed from a strong performance at the Big 12 Championship in Fort Worth, Texas, the Kansas State track and field team gets set to compete at the NCAA West Preliminary at Rock Chalk Park in Lawrence, Kansas on May 26-28. 

In all, K-State will send 29 student-athletes to compete at the Preliminary, which acts as the stepping stone to the NCAA Championships, which will be held in Eugene, Oregon on June 8-11. At last season’s meet, the team saw 13 athletes punch tickets to NCAAs. 

At this season’s Big 12 Championship, the fifth-ranked women recorded a third place finish with 112 points, while the men finished in fifth place with 94 points. K-State also saw five women win individual titles in their respective events on the final two days of competition. 

The Wildcats will send a sizable group of throwers down I-70 to compete at the Prelims. Freshman Tyler Merkley, senior Kyle Smith and junior Brady Grunder will compete in the men’s hammer throw. The three hold the top three spots on the school’s all-time list in the event. 

On the women’s side, senior Sara Savatovic and junior Janee' Kassanavoid will look to punch their ticket to NCAAs. Savatovic, the school record holder in the event, currently holds the sixth-best mark in the West and eighth-best in Division I, while Kassanavoid enters the competition with the 30th-best throw in the West. 

Freshman Brett Neelly will compete in shot put for the Wildcats, while senior Dwight Davidson will throw the javelin. Both are top-three throwers in their respective events in the conference this season. Newcomer Ally Zerbe and junior Haley Pitko will also look for big marks in the javelin throw. Both are in the top 10 in the Big 12 this year. 

Senior Dani Winters and freshman Shadae Lawrence headline the female throwers after both won conference titles two weeks ago. Winters took the shot put title with a throw of 17.39m/57-00.75, while Lawrence used a huge personal best throw of 58.84m/193-00 to win the discus title. Lawrence’s mark is also the eighth-best in Division I this season.

K-State’s jumpers will also represent a large portion of the contingent competing in Lawrence this weekend. In the high jump, sophomores Christoff Bryan and Nate Gipson, along with freshman Thilina Karunaratne, will compete after taking third place, fourth place and sixth place, respectively, at the conference meet. 

Junior Kim Williamson won the women’s high jump conference title after a leap of 1.87m/6-01.50. She will be joined by sophomore Rhizlane Siba, who finished in second place at Big 12s with a season-best jump of 1.81m/5-11.25.

Freshman triple jumper Shardia Lawrence won her first conference title of her career, using a personal best leap of 13.19m/43-03.25. Jumpers Zanri Van Der Merwe and Alyssa Kelly will look to qualify for NCAAs in long jump, while men’s long jumper Ifeanyichukwu Otuonye, who posted the 15th best jump in the West Region, will also look for a strong mark. 

On the track, mid-distance runners Kain Ellis, Lukas Koch and Sonia Gaskin will eye qualification in the 800 meter run. Ellis and Koch hold the sixth and 11th-best times in the conference this season, respectively, while Gaskin’s time is good for the 12th-best time in the West and 23rd in Division I. 

In the 400 meter hurdles, senior Tia' Gamble and freshman Ranae Mc Kenzie both enter with top-10 times in the Big 12 in the event. Gamble is also ranked 23rd in qualifying and is tied for the 47th-fastest time in Division I.

Sprinters A'keyla Mitchell and Terrell Smith will attempt to continue their strong seasons this weekend. Smith has the fastest time in the Big 12 this season in the 200 meter dash with a mark of 20.44. That time is also the third-fastest in the West and ninth fastest in Division I. Mitchell has also had an incredible year in the 200 meter dash, running the fourth-best time in the Big 12, as well as 11th-best in the West and 19th in Division I. Both will also compete in the 100 meter dash. 

A free live stream will be available to fans who cannot attend the meet. Action will be called by Terry Bryant and Mike Mahon and can be found here. For more information on the NCAA West Preliminary, including results, heats sheets and the meet schedule, visit the meet home page by clicking here

For the latest on K-State track and field, follow @kstatesports and @KStateTFXC on Twitter using the hashtag #KStateTF or on the team’s Facebook page. 

NCAA West Preliminary
Rock Chalk Park
Lawrence, Kan.

K-State Competition Schedule
Thursday
Noon Men’s Hammer – Grunder, Merkley, K Smith (North Throwing Area)
Noon Women’s Javelin – Pitko, Zerbe
3:30 p.m. Men’s LJ – Otuonye
4:00 p.m. Women’s Hammer – Kassanavoid, Savatovic (North Throwing Area)
4:30 p.m. Women’s 400H First Round – Gamble, R McKenzie
6:45 p.m. Women’s Long Jump – Kelly, Van der Merwe
8:10 p.m. Women’s 800 First Round – Gaskin
8:35 p.m. Men’s 800 First Round– Ellis, Koch

Friday
Noon Women’s Discus – Shadae Lawrence (North Throwing Area)
Noon Men’s Javelin - Davidson
5:00 p.m. Women’s HJ – Siba, Williamson
7:00 p.m. Women’s 800 Quarterfinal – Gaskin
7:15 p.m. Men’s 800 Quarterfinal – Ellis, Koch
7:30 p.m. Women’s 400H Quarterfinal – Gamble, R McKenzie
8:00 p.m. Women’s 200 First Round – Mitchell
8:25 p.m. Men’s 200 First Round – T Smith

Saturday
3:30 p.m. Women’s Shot Put – Winters
5:30 p.m. Men’s High Jump – Bryan, Gipson, Karunaratne
6:00 p.m. Men’s Shot Put - Neelly
6:30 p.m. Women’s TJ – Shardia Lawrence
7:35 p.m. Women’s 200 Quarterfinal – Mitchell
7:50 p.m. Men’s 200 Quarterfinal – T Smith
9:25 p.m. Women’s 4x4 Quarterfinal – Gaskin, Gamble, Jones, Mitchell, R McKenzie, Parks

*All times denoted are Central Time (CST)